History of LCMS Missions

Giving Thanks for the Work of Missionaries

We give thanks to God for the LCMS’s rich history of foreign missions. We can all benefit by learning and giving thanks to God for these stories of God’s love.

Concordia Historical Institute has vast collections rich in documents, photographs, and artifacts from the mission field. Each of these objects tells a story. The story of the sacrifice of an individual or family to leave behind the familiar and embrace an unknown mission field; the story of the beginnings of a new congregation; the story of Christ’s love for all the world, embodied in a simple baptism, sermon, Bible study, word of counsel, confession and absolution, or celebration of the Lord’s Supper.

Times were often tough. War, disease, cultural differences, language barriers, geopolitics, local skirmishes, and family tensions brought heartache and distress to missionaries, their families, and their congregants. From postwar Japan to the Caribbean, Native American tribes in the northern U.S, to Sub-Saharan Africa—each location had its challenges. Men like Theodore Naether gave their lives for the cause of missions. Others like our missionaries in China in the early- to mid-20th century, like Edward Arndt or Roy Suelflow, had to deal with complex and dangerous local politics. But the Lord of the harvest is faithful, even in lean years and hard circumstances. God never promises worldly success or a comfortable life, but He always gives to us His grace, peace, mercy, and love. These stories of our missionaries bear witness to this fact.

Our Hands, Your Help

But it takes work to manage and share these stories with the world. Our archival staff work tirelessly to sort, catalog, and connect researchers with these vital resources. We maintain strict temperature and humidity conditions and utilize specific types of storage solutions to ensure that these priceless artifacts proclaiming God’s love for the world will withstand the otherwise-ruthless forces of time and decay, so that future generations can learn and rejoice over these stories.

Further, we aim to produce a number of books highlighting the work of LCMS missionaries in a variety of places. We need your help, though, to make these stories known.

Your help is critical to finance these upcoming volumes. We estimate a need of $14,000 per book in order to budget for the archival, editorial, and publishing work necessary. There is much to be done here, as some of these collections require a great deal of work and research before they are usable. However, with support from large and small donors alike, we believe further mission resources, including additional monographs in our series, are possible. We can share these inspirational stories of God’s love in action, if we share them together.

Become a Partner in Preserving the History of LCMS Missions

Support the CHI’s work to honor the history of LCMS Missions today with a one-time financial gift. Make your most generous gift today at https://concordiahistoricalinstitute.givecloud.co/.


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